For Mariners Fans: Baseball Sabermetrics 101

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 09: Nelson Cruz
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 09: Nelson Cruz /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – JUNE 27: Felipe Rivero /

Spin Rate

When talking about “nasty” pitchers these days, many analysts will use spin rate to emphasize just how nasty they are.

It is revolutions of the baseball per minute. The amount of spin on a ball can change locations, even if it’s the same pitch with the same speed. Pitchers who have higher spin rates are typically harder to hit against. Aroldis Chapman is widely considered one of the nastiest pitchers in baseball. His average spin rate is 2,422 rpm. Matt Bush has an average spin rate much higher at 2,541. To the best of my research, Bush is the only pitcher averaging north of 2,500 rpm. That might explain his career 2.88 ERA and 3.27 FIP (see what I did there?) in 91 appearances.

Felipe Rivero of the Pirates also jumped out at me. His average spin rate is 2,424, slightly above Chapman’s. I honestly had not heard much about him until I looked at the spin rate leaders. He has a stifling 0.78 ERA and 54 strikeouts in just 46 innings this year. Perhaps there is something to a higher spin rate and tough relievers. Take note, Mariners executives.

CHICAGO, IL – JULY 07: Kris Bryant /


Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is perhaps the most widely-used of these sabermetric stats. This is the amount of wins that particular player is worth compared to an average replacement. This is attempting to put an overall value on one player to their team. The two 2016 MVPs were Kris Bryant and Mike Trout. They also happened to lead both of their leagues in WAR. Trout led all of baseball at 10.5 and Bryant posted a 7.7. That means Trout was worth 10.5 wins to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last year.

The average player has a 0 WAR. If a player is in the negatives, it is certainly cause for concern. A player that received a -1 WAR last season was Caleb Joseph. It showed in his numbers as he hit .174 with just three extra base hits in 49 games. He was eventually optioned to Triple-A by the Orioles. He has bounced back this season.

WAR can be applied to any player, batter or pitcher. Mariners reliever Nick Vincent is having a solid year and has a 1.1 WAR in 2017. That is better than the likes of Wade Davis or David Price. Aaron Judge is head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the league at this point, with a 5.3 WAR. The next closest player is Carlos Correa at 4.6.

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 26: Bryce Harper /


More from Emerald City Swagger

“Weighted runs created” is a way to quantify the runs a certain player creates. The “plus” like in ERA+ or OPS+ is to adjust to the player’s position and ballpark and the average score is 100. It is a quicker gauge to see how productive a certain player is offensively.

For example, it’s common to describe Bryce Harper’s season as hitting .322 with 20 home runs and 64 RBI. A quicker way is to say Harper as a 164 wRC+ (anything above 150 is considered excellent). Nelson Cruz is sitting at 138 wRC+, the best on the Mariners.

The opposite could be Kyle Seager. He has struggled mightily this season and he as a wRC+ of 94, which is even lower than Jarrod Dyson. That is a good measuring stick to see just how much Seager is struggling this year.

Next: Three Mariners Trade Candidates

I hope this cleared the air a bit more about some of these sabermetric numbers and added a Mariners perspective. This article was just as much for myself as it was for anyone else. Some other numbers I did not dive into are wOBA (weighted on-base average), ISO (isolated power) and UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating). I find to be a good website for further research.